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Gonbad Aali Tower and Its Similar Architectures

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Gonbad Aali Tower

Gonbad-i- Ali Tower at Abarquh is in central Iran. This octagonal tomb consists of a tower of rubble masonry, rather than the traditional brick. And features a bold three-tiered muqarnas cornices, also of rubble, that once probably supported a pyramid roof.

gonbad aali tower

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Further use of advanced mathematics in medieval Islamic architecture of Iran, especially the period between the Seljuk and the Timur dynasties. It is evident in the height of the towers and entrances, and the two shelled domes, used in the mosques of various cities.

gonbad aali tower

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The Architecture

The lofty minarets, with their ambitious construction and rich geometric and epigraphic decorations, were designed and constructed with immense skill. Construction techniques have not been studied thoroughly. But the continued ability of these slender towers to resist earthquakes suggests that their builders employed some sophisticated method. Perhaps wooden tie beams, to give tensile strength to the structure.

gonbad aali tower

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Other Architectures Similar to Gonbad Aali

Other examples are the Masjid-i-Jameh at Tabriz and Masjid-i-Jameh at Varamine. The first one “consisted of a single immense Iwan of brick 99 feet wide, about 213 feet deep, to the springing of now collapsed vault. About 82 feet tall, shows an immense sahn5 with center pool and single-aisled porticoes.

While the latter had a small dome behind the main portal completes the portal iwan, the dome chamber is articulated, as is all else. By squinch filled with muqarnas in brick, which signals the transition from the square to the octagon.

tabriz jameh mosque

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Jameh Mosque of Yazd

Among a large number of examples of the close relationship between Iranian medieval architecture and geometry, there is the entrance of the Friday mosque, Masjid-I-Jame, at Yazd, situated near the center of this large city.

This Friday Mosque is notable for its exceptionally narrow pishtaq surmounted by twin minarets. The interior of the dome has an almost complete tile revetment. And the elimination of the rear wall of the iwan in the qibla side ensured, for the first time, that congregation in the court yard could see it.


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The upper galleries produce a considerable lightening of the dome chamber, both visually and structurally. And a more complex succession of solids and voids. The same considerations are found in the transverse vaulting of the prayer hall.

The principal entrance to the mosque, which is composed of an iwan and the minarets from the 14th century, is exceptional in that it is the tallest entrance in Islamic architecture of Iran. The height achieved in this part of the structure would not have been possible without structural mathematical analyses. The height is stresses further by the ascending line molding of the minarets.

yazd jameh mosque

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The purpose of the tall towers or minarets was to create the sense of reaching to God. This sense could be embodied in the structure by narrowing the entrance as much as possible, and by making it as tall as possible, with the help of mathematical calculations.


By reviewing examples of medieval Iranian architecture, one becomes aware of its close relationship to scientific fields such as mathematics, geometry, cosmology, and astrology. This relationship made it possible to achieve perfection, monumentality and poetic beauty. It is wisdom within the art.

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